HL Deb 03 February 2003 vol 644 cc12-3WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why housing benefit is not available to those serving prison sentences of more than 13 weeks; and whether they will make it available, at least where the offender has dependants aged under 18 or is of pensionable age; and [HL1201]

Whether they will enable the spouse or partner of a convicted and imprisoned person to claim housing benefit from the date of the conviction. [HL1202]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

In general, housing benefit is only payable to people who are occupying the home for which housing costs are payable. However, benefit can continue to be paid during periods of temporary absence from home.

The existing housing benefit rules allow benefit to continue to be paid to convicted prisoners for up to 13 weeks if their absence from home, including time already spent on remand, is not expected to exceed 13 weeks. This recognises public concern that prisoners should not be treated more generously than other groups and the need to focus limited resources where they are most needed. People held in custody while on remand are entitled to receive housing benefit for up to 52 weeks.

Partners of prisoners serving a sentence longer than 13 weeks can already claim housing benefit in their own right, subject to the usual conditions of entitlement.